How the new Covid rules to tackle omicron will affect your Christmas and New Year’s Eve plans

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference earlier in December, Mr Johnson said: “On Christmas, the best way to ensure we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible is to get on with Plan B – irritating though it may be, it is not a lockdown, it is Plan B, it is what we set out a while back – and to get your booster and to get your jab.”

Asked about whether festive parties and nativity plays should be cancelled, he replied: “No, in my view they should not.”

“They should follow the guidance, of course, but we are not saying we want kids to be taken out of school before the end of term – not that there is very long to go now – and we don’t want nativity plays to be cancelled.

“We think that it is OK currently, on what we can see, to keep going with Christmas parties, but obviously everybody should exercise due caution, have ventilation, wash your hands, get a test before you go – (it is) a sensible thing to do to give everybody else at the party the confidence that they are going to be meeting someone who is not contagious.”

What the Covid restrictions mean for Christmas services:

As of Dec 10, face coverings became compulsory in places of worship.

However, the Prime Minister said that people who are “singing” are exempt from face masks, meaning those attending Christmas services are able to remove their face coverings when joining in carols. 

What they mean for Christmas shopping and hospitality:

In England, face coverings were already required in shops and shopping centres.

Hospitality settings are exempt from face mask rules, meaning people attending Christmas meals in pubs or restaurants are not required to wear a face covering.

What about the new restrictions in Wales?

The First Minister has announced a mixture of advice for the Christmas period and new regulations to follow as part of a “two-phase plan”.

From Dec 27, two-metre social distancing will be mandatory in shops and businesses, alongside measures including one-way systems and physical barriers to protect customers and staff. Nightclubs will be closed. Regulations will also be changed to include a requirement to work from home wherever possible.

Until Dec 27, the Welsh Government is encouraging people to follow five steps, including; getting vaccinated; making sure to have a negative lateral flow test result before going shopping or meeting people; meeting in well-ventilated areas and preferably outdoors; spacing out socialising to allow test days in between; and adhering to social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing hands.

What do the rules mean for Christmas travel?

The Prime Minister did not announce any extra international travel restrictions at the Downing Street press conference or during his national address. 

In fact, on Dec 14 it was announced that 11 countries on the UK’s travel red list would be removed, ending the requirement for arrivals from the likes of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria to spend 10 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285.

Ministers accepted the red list was no longer required to protect the UK from the import of the omicron variant as it is already becoming the dominant strain in the UK.

Travel testing rules had also already been tightened: anyone travelling to the UK must now take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and self-isolate until they have received a negative result – regardless of the country they are travelling from, or their vaccination status. 

Additionally, all people aged 12 years and over must take a PCR or lateral flow test before they travel to England from abroad.

On Dec 13, the Prime Minister announced that the NHS Covid Pass would be rolled out to children aged 12-15, for travel purposes.

Can I go on my ski holiday to France?

France has announced a ban on non-essential travel to and from Britain to slow the spread of the omicron Covid variant, meaning tourist trips will not be possible over Christmas.

From midnight Saturday Dec 18, there has been the “requirement to have an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated”. 

“People cannot travel for touristic or professional reasons,” the French government said, adding that French citizens and EU nationals could still return to France from the UK.

People arriving from Britain for essential reasons will be required to show a negative Covid test that is less than 24 hours old, to test again upon arrival and self-isolate for seven days, although that can be reduced to 48 hours if the second test is negative.

Travelling to the Netherlands from the UK: lockdown rules, travel restrictions and Covid cases

Travel restrictions are increasing across Europe for UK holidaymakers, as the Netherlands entered a nationwide lockdown on Dec 19.

Set to last until at least Jan 14, according to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the closure applies to all but essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places.

According to the UK government, due to the UK being marked as a “very high risk country”, only those who are fully vaccinated Britons can enter the Netherlands. 

However, a negative test (PCR or antigen) will need to be provided upon arrival and visitors must undergo 10 days’ home quarantine – regardless of the test result. Should a negative test result be obtained on Day 5, the quarantine period can be reduced.

Can I travel to Germany for Christmas?

Germany is one of the latest European countries to announce a travel ban on UK visitors – with measures taking affect from midnight Sunday Dec 19.

Under the new travel restrictions, only German citizens and residents are able to return to the country from the UK. Even then, those who are allowed to enter the country will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Transit flights through German airports will still be allowed, however, for those travelling to another country via Germany.

This article is being kept updated with the latest news and Government guidance daily.  

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